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Montreal as a City State: Can a DBA Go Beyond their Workplace to Provoke Change in their Region?

By Hugo Shebbeare, 2009/11/06

 

I am very impressed with Michel David’s work, and openly endorse much of his great piece of work at MontrealCityState.ca – the following is personal take on his propositions, or simple re-iteration, and if I have more to add, or issue with the specific point (which I shall throw in anecdotes to make a point, or give specific technical experience for persuasion when necessary).  The main difference I would like to see as a result of this proposal is that we look at this separation of Montreal from the rest of Quebec as a Logical one, in addition to the obvious Physical separation that exists. If Quebeckers want a large city that is more Quebec City-like in mentality, then they would be happier in Laval(?), but we must respect Montreal’s multi-cultural constitution and allow it to flourish without the constant negative judgementalism from the rest of Quebec, which frets over the city’s diversity and anguishes over losing the French language (as mentioned before, still here after 400 years, so why are discriminatory laws from the 70s still existing – as if many politicians are still stuck in the seventies, and forgetting to concentrate key issues such as education). As immigrants arrive, they are more likely to be favourable to the Lingua Franca, which some in the government view as an attack on the French Language, or an attack on the [broken] Quebec Model, but this passion is misplaced in the Montreal context due to a combination of many of the following reasons.

Negative Consequences of Separatist Movements and their Repetitive Attempts to de-Anglicise Montreal Completely

I am not going to justify and give lengthily discussion on the exodus of English-speaking Canadians (hundreds of thousands of Anglo-Quebeckers), that is covered quite effectively by a series of YouTube videos (many individuals interviewed, for those in QC spread lies and think that Anglos who left did it out of their own volition ).  Early last Spring, about the same time as Michel David was composing this work, I spoke out in a letter to Government Institutions in Quebec, especially ex-Premier Bernard Landry, about workplace discrimination by race/ethnicity and psychological harassment.

I am an Anglo-Quebecker, who even married in Ayer’s Cliff, just eight kilometres down the road from where Great Grandfather Robert Austin was married in the Eastern Townships (Coaticook). Although born in Vancouver, and went to bilingual school in the beginning,  I came back East in `98 to return to some centuries-old roots in Quebec, although only really becoming fluent in French in Brussels, Belgium during the four years at Vesalius College, VUB, between `94-8.  Initially, my 'boot camp' in French was at the Université Libre de Bruxelles in the Institut Phonétique, but the real fluency came mostly by hanging out with the Motquin family here below in Freyr, Rock Climbing by the side of the great Meuse River that runs through much of North Western Europe:

Les Rochers de Freyr, Belgium (near Dinant)

Climbing with Serge, Ben and Lilliane really helped learning the language quick, although it puts a heavy hint on the vocabulary related to climbing first: La voie, le relais, s'assurer, le baudrier, le noeud huit, les chaussons...etc.  All this say that I feel rather linked to this land since it has the best of Europe and Canada at the same time for me personally - we can use three languages a day here fluently, for me that`s a privilege.

Now back to MontreaCityState.ca - I agree very much with the statements regarding small business and start ups on page seven, although costs are very low, it is obvious what creativity and innovation with respect to business is not helped much by the government, since we have widespread mafia-like corruption running through the officeplace or blatant unprofessionalism, and if it is not that, we are subject (coming from a profitable 6 years + small biz myself) to this because even in the best conditions are expected to work on steam, meaning absolutely bank overdraught for up to six months at a time – even when you are on a government project.

This is fundamentally flawed, since now that it has come to a crisis (greatest financial hiccup for a century), all those who forced others to run on fumes have had their respective revenue sources be forcefully placed on hold for what it seems like about six months - imagine not being paid in full for six months, and somehow surviving with only twenty percent of your earnings given to you at a time? This is the pressure small businesses have to endure - because veut veut pas the attitude is that someone else will pay for your problems (see the points behind the great work Illusion Tranquille). This goes back to another point which is inconturnable here in Quebec:  sometimes you come across those whose mentality is founded upon a notion that they are entitled to make decisions for you (la raison pour laquelle je dit que le gouvernement nous traite d’esclaves assez souvent, et quand on retire nos droits, ce n’est plus une société libre, pensez au francophones qui veulent mettre les élèves en école en anglais laissez faire la Loi 104 SVP), as if it’s okay to violate your rights and unapologetically at that (and people wonder why there are such shameful outmigration levels, even deplored by guests at the Sunday-night institution Tout le Monde en Parle hosted by Guy A. LePage).  My most serious anecdote involves a [now thrown out] Senior Vice President at the Caisse de Défauts, who not only hinted that minorities did not have the right to work for the Government (are you surprised Landry ranted on about Anglos working for the CDP(?)still people?), but harassed many persons until they left and even had the audacity to say loudly from their open offices how easy it is to kick out the English. And people wonder why there are
‘Angry’phones? When will these ‘which side are you on’ ethnic divisions ever end? What possible way of foreward thinking would lead anyone to envisage that you can get away with such socially unacceptable behaviour?

Horror Stories Aside, Lessons Learned – Montreal’s double-whammy Neverdum Post-Mortem

How can we apply these principles and arguments brought forth by Mr. David’s great work? Think of the current situation and what brought it about. Currently, a re-elected Mayor for the third time who has been trying to stand up to the inherent massive corruption system at the risk of his life, although turning a blind eye to is for long.  The circumstances are so ominous that even The Economist took notice to comment about Graft, that has established itself as, in one instance, a network of 14 companies for city construction contracts (this system, in actual fact, a mafia organization chiefly, was openly exposed by a famous whistleblower, our brave Mr. Beaudry). More persons have to step forward to put an end to this, and by writing I hope to contribute.

Diversity has to be allowed in Montreal to prosper as it was before the referendums and separatists ruined outside investment, especially after the second referendum in 1995 (see Montreal reborn) without the projection of the modèle Québécois onto the City of Montreal (and many bilingual regions, in the Greater Montreal Area).

When Michel David mentions governance, he is hitting the mark, and I agree with him clearly about the Negative Interdependence Quebec has on provinces surrounding it, resulting from the political instability due to the failed threat of separation, Anglo Exodus, Separatist Propaganda (thanks Daniel Laprès for your note) and business’ HQs departure to Toronto.  A common way to really create wealth here (and one of the only ways it seems) is by Real Estate, thus, no wonder the real booming market we are seeing in Montreal now that the interest rates have stayed low. This is another counter-current to the economic downturn, the reason that we are seeing construction and renovation (Federal govt.s Action Plan induced also), since many people who are able to sell (since we have a minimum 25% mortgage down payment requirement by Canadian banks, and applauded by economists as a reason our banking system is strong still, quite different from the huge Foreclosure Crisis in the U.S.A).

How Not to Promote Growth - Promoting the Chamber of Commerce as Unilingual

To be honest, despite loving to live in French most of the time, and even Blogging in French, the Chamber of Commerce has really turned me off with its repetitive message that it wants a French Only Business environment in Montreal (hence the reasons behind the negative growth of the networks here, promoting division instead of the actual bilingual workplace, which was even supported by the Premier), meaning that obviously we have to be ignored because we speak another language (wtphrack?) – of course, this is a worst case scenario, but I could provide several anecdotes.  Is this not yet another sociological propaganda message to not create a pro-diversity board of trade, but a francophone-only one?  Could they be more blatant with having the Premier okay the message too?  Does Charest (with his pro-nationalist-goggles on) even realise what this means to the large percentage of businesses that operate in English due to their out of province ties, or the fact that they might be run by 20% of the island population who are native English Speakers, or the other 30-35% of 'allophones' who use English at home?  Does this not mean that we have business networks, that control the flow of money, when it trickles down from the government or their big untendered contracts (where minorities are represented only in pathetic numbers, less than a percentage point say counter to the twenty percent Anglophone population?), and minorities are cut off from the source of this wealth, as if to accept the majority's sense of entitlement?  David states that ‘…to protect the French language and culture and to nurture a Québécois set of values’ from the top of the government down means that ‘for Montreal, however, a modern, dynamic city, this defensive and past-oriented strategy has been toxic: Montreal needs a very different forward-looking, proactive strategy.’  I have mentioned this stuck in the sixties/seventies mentality thoroughly in a post to Government Institutions last Spring, and I am glad to see someone like this man has independently come to much of the same conclusions!  'Québecois' values are often counter to encouraging business and making money - and for anyone who does not understand this, clearly they are in 'disconnect' with the majority provincial mindset.

Time to Patch up Some Wounds and Establish Equality Amongst the Island's Inhabitants

For this whole strategy to work, might I suggest that there be reconciliation with the Anglophone community who has been the scapegoat for much of the post Quiet Revolution, now (Grand Illusion) illusion tranquille era.  Many, such as myself, are uneasily happy with declaration of the QC Nation we all knew existed in our multi-nation state, because of the exodus from the province and the exclusion of French Canadians from the boundaries of the nation they are supposed to be a part of too, but have caused a clear internal rift since the pro-independence movement now in decline thanks to acceptance of nationhood.   Many splinter extremist groups have resulted, which attempt to attract attention to their lost sovereigntist cause by screaming ever louder and louder (hence the term Bluenecks, QC’s Redneck equivalent , described thoroughly here), even to the point of threatening the Family of the head of State touring the Country (HRH Prince Charles was harassed by the Réseau de Résistance Québécois and Anti-Royalist League while trying to give thanks to Canadians who served in Afganistan), or bringing back sloppy seconds from the PQ songbook or demonising anything English (even education in EN) that has any open character flaw (as if nobody can be perfect, except for those from the their own side of history…a cheap tactic to get the Anglophobes to follow easily and their obvious disdain). In France, one only has to see LePenn’s speeches and attitude to understand this strain of xenophobia, even Sarkozy was harassed by persons who share this mentality clanniste before he won the presidency.

This mans' comment regarding the Bill 104 contraversy summarizes the mistreatment of the Anglophone community very well:
Damien
November 13, 2009 - 2:23 PM

'Quebec is still a part of Canada, so Quebec is not French ONLY; Quebec was and is French and English....Some think Quebec is French period; only if you're a closed minded xenophobe. Some say Immigrants who choose to educate in English, violates Francophone rights; only if your a hypocritical racist. Others say the French language is threatened and the burden of protection falls on the sacrificial Anglophone; only if you're fully indoctrinated with Franco supremacist lies and can't count high enough to realize Francophones are an overwhelming majority, which shamelessly abuses their power at the expense of the Anglophone and Allophone minorities. I say if Francophones can't maintain or preserve their own language without trampling the rights of other, that's not my problem. It is not the responsibility of Anglos to sacrifice themselves to save the French language, especially when the Francophones think nothing of killing the English language where ever it is found. The politicians and bureaucrats will never save the French language in Quebec. If the people can't do it on their own, the language will die in N. America. The more they tighten the screws, the more tension they will create and the closer we all come to the breaking point.  I used to care about Quebec and the future of the Quebecois, but no longer. They have disrespected and abused the Anglo poeple too many times. There is no going back.' 


The Way Forward, Break Montreal’s Immobile State

As mentioned before I shall always remain optimistic and straight forward as Mr. David, because maintaining a cheerful disposition, despite being under immense financial pressure due to the highest level of taxation in North America, and multiple attacks on the welfare of my family due to exposure by contract (with a dose of minority mistreatment, which typical during an economic downturn anywhere).  His goals are the same as mine, since we both love this city despite its mismanagement, we need to brake away from the status quo by clearly pointing out the blockage (immobilisme) that comes from the culture of français avant tout entitlement currently instilled, to a proactive, change-driven entrepreneurial culture, that creates autonomous individuals instead of those dependent on the state for hand-outs (for projects, etc.). Why doesn’t the Caisse de Défauts take an example from success and hire street smart entrepreneurs instead of complacent, incompetent permanents that reinforce state dependence and mediocrity.  It would result in, as Michel David states on page twelve, in the wide-spread bottom-up individual or enterprise initiative, by allowing the money to flow to persons who are creating the jobs (small business in general creates eighty percent of jobs).

Also, one of the incremental strategy examples would be the positive reinforcement of the mandate of the Working Standards Commission, since this major improvement in the workplace will be a great benefit to diversity.  Minorities would not have to live in fear of unwanted repetitive harassment by the 'Bluenecks' in the office, as I have sustained multiple times - unfortunately, due to the recession, workplace tensions have risen significantly...

Montreal is Distinct from the Rest of the Province - Don’t Crimp It’s Style!

A defensive stance for the physical island of Montreal should not be taken as is done for the rest of QC, trying to survive in a Anglo sea of contiguous states.  The Island has always been shared territory, but the nationalist / franco-separatist zealots (although their numbers are very few, as we noticed from the less than one hundred that showed up to protest in front of Brent Tyler’s Office over the fight against Bill 104) are trying to re-write history continuously as if to justify the ethnic cleansing of Anglos from the Island (gladly returning, a revived community with population levels of just under 800,000), to the point of convincing multi-nationals that English isn’t worth posting anymore in retail establishments (even if multi-national companies!).  This is quite disgusting considering Canada is a bilingual country.  These wrongs have to be reversed, thus my awareness and standing up to the sources of this immobile bullydom.

Another aspect Michel focuses on is the proverb ‘less liberty, less wealth,’ Tasha Kheirriddin pointed out Les Affaires in August last year. One thing is for sure, the anti-English repressive laws here, often only of a psychological nature aimed at forcing a homogenous society (simple anecdote, Louis Harel’s attack on what she called Ghettos on the Island of Montreal), are enough to turn investment away from Quebec not to mention huge CDPQ losses (47BN and counting).  In this way, if the top of the heap cannot even get it right, despite 5/7 things done perfectly well, not willing to admit fault ('denial', not only a river in Egypt) for obvious things to those who have survived the ridiculous mismanaged and vicious government environments.  Who would willingly go to set up a business in a place where they risk harassment and being fined for being different from the provincial mould? Why does the main supporter behind Quebec Inc., the Caisse de Depot, give such preferential treatment to one ethnicity as opposed to all Quebeckers?  I’m sorry, but who made up all these rules (ah, right only majority’s elite), and convince the majority to follow this like fools.  Does this mean stealing opportunities from those who do not fit the homogenous mould of the rest of Quebec is justified? It’s not to say that all business that has been helped by the CDP isn’t good, but the cumulative effect of restrictions based on ethnicity, favouritism to pro-sovereigntists (the CDPQ being a bastion set up by Parizeau himself), high taxes significantly contributes, the widespread mafia-like construction cartel, and lack of internal investment into the province means we have an immobile economy (Mr David describes this on page 12/3 Immobilisme again).  Honestly, it feels like we are living in a quasi bullydom sometimes after have been thrust upon several persons of various degrees – where schoolyard politics are the norm in the government and in a few private companies, with the tools that support their control.

Solutions, Solutions, Solutions

The solutions to this blockus are bilingualism, forced minority quotas by the Working Standards Commission (Commission des normes du travail) and lower taxes on the island (similar to what was done to promote people to move back onto the island at the start of the millennium), and the promotion of diversity, by perhaps rekindling of the Vivre Ensemble / Living Together, pro-diversity campaigns of the past by the government (thinking of the posters still up in Serrano's resto in the Mile-End of Montreal, on St-Zotique Street).

The new proposed Model for Montreal, is to, firstly, respect the city’s history (meaning a return of the great Scottish, Irish and English history ALSO, the other three corners of the flag! please), as it was a great city and can become once again once we reach out to the rest of the world.  We have to minimise the influence of what has left us in this immobile state (see above), and in turn support wealth creation, entrepreneurialism, and international orientation (instead of only inward looking, as in the modèle Québécois – which can work for many, but should not be treated as the only route to success).   Celui qui cri le plus fort (the one screaming the loudest) is not the way to set examples, it’s the way to establish Losership, this must be dropped to focus on the best ideas instead (Quebec’s equivalent of the Metro Vs. Retro struggle).

I would support his proposal about uniting Montreal’s various politically, but the lack of trust in the city is at an all time high with another scandal exposed monthly. When diversity is essentially enforced in the government workplace from the top down, then maybe we can talk about this suggestion, until then, the demerged cities will not be keen on allowing another forced merger. Those who have been labelled as Allophones or Anglophones must be filtered from the infamous provincial modèle québécois – unless the ethnocentric Ville de Montréal accept bilingualism and the right to a minority veto to ensure wake is not damaging to the point of ethnic cleansing, as we have lived through in the past, because without actions in this direction, the decline of the city and the province shall continue.


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